The average small business relies on a certain level of word of mouth advertising to get the word out about their products or services.
What's not to like about it? It's consumer-driven, inexpensive and effective -- research indicates that word of mouth promotion is substantially more effective than other forms of advertising.
The key to successful word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is to know when and how to use it to your advantage. Some business scenarios naturally lend themselves to a WOMM strategy while others may be better served by an alternate marketing mechanism. If you're leaving your business' word of mouth promotion to chance, it's time to get intentional about a WOMM strategy -- and to keep a sharp lookout for these common business scenarios.
- Credibility issues. Credibility issues can present a real challenge for small business. WOMM can help you overcome credibility problems by equipping satisfied customers with the tools they need to communicate with others who value their recommendations.
- Industry advances. Marketing strategies that target early adopters of new products create the potential for highly effective WOMM campaigns. Most consumers rely on the recommendations of key influencers who are often the first to field test new products or processes.
- Product momentum. Some products and services take a long time to be adopted by the masses. Word of mouth strategies like blogging and placing products in the hands of target influencers can help build momentum, shortening the amount of time it takes for widespread consumer acceptance.
- Negative PR. If your company has experienced negative PR, WOMM is your best hope of quickly turning the situation around. Word of mouth strategies have the advantage of speed, delivering large amounts of good information in a short period of time. They also have the benefit of overcoming the trust deficit that may exist on the backside of a negative PR event.
- Product trials. If your business plans to engage in product or service trials, you're in a good position to employ WOMM techniques. Assuming that the people who use your products have a positive experience, you can equip them with information and resources to pass on to friends and acquaintances.